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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1425/01 1351208
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P 151208Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1095
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 2162
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 8897
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2139
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 2966
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2163
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0036
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 2907
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9798
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0274
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 6879
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4284
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9185
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3374
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5304
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 6825
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001425

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR NEA STAFF

SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL FOR POLAD/USIA ADVISOR
COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
-------------------------

Ha'aretz cited information received on Monday from Washington that
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is planning a trip to the region

SIPDIS
in June.

The media reported that today Olmert will meet with King Abdullah II
of Jordan in Aqaba after taking part in a meeting of Nobel
Prizewinners in Petra. The Jerusalem Post quoted senior diplomatic
officials in Jerusalem as saying that Olmert may invite the King to
address the Knesset. Ha'aretz reported that PA Chairman [President]
Mahmoud Abbas canceled his participation in the Petra meeting at the
last minute.

Leading media reported that, upon his return from Jordan this
afternoon, PM Olmert will participate in a major IDF war game, which
will test readiness to deal with multiple threats on several fronts.
Israel Radio said that the game will focus on leadership.

Leading media quoted FM Tzipi Livni as saying on Monday before the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the peace plans
being presented by Arab nations were not a substitute for direct
negotiations with the Palestinians. Livni reiterated that a
two-state solution is the only answer.

Israel Radio cited the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying that
Vice President Richard Cheney told his hosts during a tour of the
Middle East that the US is determined to end the crisis with Iran
even if this required a military strike. The radio also reported
that Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns
responded to reports of increasing Iranian nuclear activity by
saying that sanctions against Iran should be bolstered. Yediot and
Maariv reported that Iran has arrested Haleh Esfandiari, an American
woman of Iranian origin, who allegedly spied for Israel.

All media reported that on Monday two brothers who had recently
emigrated from France were arrested by police after one of the two
confessed to murdering an Arab taxi driver in their Tel Aviv
apartment. Media cited the police's suspicion that the murder was a
hate crime. Ha'aretz cited the police's fear of retribution.

Ha'aretz quoted Rabbi Avraham Wasserman, one of the organizers of
Sunday's high-profile visit to the Temple Mount by dozens of
Religious Zionist rabbis, as saying that Religious Zionist rabbis
and yeshiva students are planning to continue their visits to the
Mount. Two articles in today's Yated Ne'eman, the mouthpiece of
Lithuanian (non-Hasidic) ultra-Orthodox -- cited in Ha'aretz --
denounced the rabbis as "idol worshipers", "Reform" Jews, and
"merchants trading in the Torah's commandments." Ha'aretz reported
that tensions around the Mugrabi Gate archeological works near the
Old City have subsided following the evaluation of the construction
activity by a Turkish and UN delegation, which confirmed that the
Temple Mount is not being harmed by these efforts.

Channel 2-TV reported that IDF soldiers serving in elite units were
hurt in a secret trial of a vaccine against anthrax-type biological
weapons.

Maariv reported that a far-left wing Harvard University group that
includes Jews and Israelis distributed "wanted for crimes of war"
posters for former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz.

Ha'aretz reported that, in a position paper entitled "The Haifa
Declaration," a group of Israeli Arab intellectuals are calling on
Israel to recognize its responsibility for the Nakba ("The
Catastrophe," the Palestinians' term for what happened to them after
1948) and to act to implement the Palestinian refugees' right of
return and establishment of a Palestinian state. The paper says
that these moves will pave the way to a historic reconciliation
between the Jewish nation in Israel and the Palestinian people.
Ha'aretz noted that the demands in the Haifa Declaration are similar
to those made in previous position papers and consist first and
foremost of abolishing the Jewish state.

Ha'aretz cited figures for 2006 released by the GOI's Central Bureau
of Statistics according to which Jerusalem is Israel's largest city,
with a jurisdiction of 126,000 dunams (approximately 28,000 acres)
and 732,000 residents. Some 469,000 (64 percent) of Jerusalem's
residents are Jews, compared to some 239,000 (32 percent) Muslims
and some 14,700 (2 percent) Christians. The natural growth rate
among the highly concentrated ultra-Orthodox Jewish and Arab
communities in Jerusalem is much higher than the national average.
Ha'aretz reported that on Monday only seven ambassadors attended the
festive gathering at the Knesset celebrating 40 years of Jerusalem's
reunification. In attendance were the ambassadors of Georgia,
Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Congo, the Ivory Coast and Honduras.
The ambassadors of EU members, the United States and most other
countries represented in Israel boycotted the event because they do
not recognize the legitimacy of a unified Jerusalem.

Yediot reported on a European plan to fund the PLO, by-passing
Hamas.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, utilizing state-of-the-art laser
and fiber optics technology, the IDF plans to "revolutionize"
security for the Jewish community of Hebron in an effort to minimize
friction between settlers and local Palestinians.

All media reported that PA Interior Minister Hani Kawasmeh resigned
on Monday, as factional fighting in the Gaza Strip continued for a
second day despite efforts to reach a truce. The fighting, in which
four people were killed on Monday and five on Sunday, is the first
since Hamas and Fatah agree to form a unity government in February.
Leading electronic media reported that this morning Hamas gunmen
attacked a Palestinian Presidential Guard's training camp near the
Karni crossing. According to the reports, at least 10 people were
hurt in the exchanges of fire and the crossing was closed down.

All media reported that on Monday, in a first-of-a-kind request, PM
Ehud Olmert's attorneys wrote to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz
asking that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss be probed for
allegedly abusing his office's powers -- a crime that carries a
maximum sentence of three years in prison. The complaint relates to
the comptroller's report on Olmert's purchase of a house on
Jerusalem's Cremieux St. Leading media reported that Mazuz and the
police are unlikely to accede to the request. Ha'aretz reported
that AG Menachem Mazuz may veto the return of former justice
minister Haim Ramon to the government, which media reported is being
actively backed by Olmert.

Major media reported that members of the Kadima Party have advised
Vice PM Shimon Peres not to run for the presidency of Israel,
because his chances of winning currently appear low.

Leading media quoted Murad Mosli (phon.), a former senior Syrian
official, as saying on Sunday on the Internet site of Aljazeera-TV
that the remains of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who was executed in 1965,
cannot be accessed because of the construction of a neighborhood and
public structures above his grave.
Yediot reported that over the weekend a pro-Palestinian organization
in Canada called to boycott a bookstore chain whose Jewish owners
support IDF soldiers.

Yediot reported that the Israel Police plans to merge its four
investigative branches into an "Israeli FBI."

Ha'aretz reported that the Jewish Museum in New York City is
currently showing an exhibition of 40 photographs and video films of
23 Israeli and other artists and photographers who try to capture
glimpses of life in Israel with their lenses. The newspaper quoted
curator Susan Tumarkin Goodman as saying that although she had no
political agenda, the works do contain political content and there
are messages behind them

Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as saying on Monday that an ADL study
covering five European countries -- France, Italy, Germany, Spain,
and Poland -- found rising anti-Semitism, including beliefs that
Jews have too much power in business and finance.


--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The religious
Zionist rabbis who ascended the Temple Mount on Sunday knowingly and
irresponsibly brought a burning torch nearer to the most flammable
hill in the Middle East."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "It
should be no surprise if many in the Arab world see success in
denying Israel recognition in any part of Jerusalem as representing
success in the campaign to deny Israel's right to exist."

Palestinian affairs researcher Moshe Elad, a former senior IDF
official in the West Bank and former head of Israel-PA coordination,
wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot:
"Condoleezza Rice's latest 'benchmark plan,' as well as the
Roadmap's updated versions, represent symptoms not of solving
problems of "failed states" but of creating such states."

Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "A Provocation in Religious Clothing"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (5/15): "The
religious Zionist rabbis who ascended the Temple Mount on Sunday
knowingly and irresponsibly brought a burning torch nearer to the
most flammable hill in the Middle East. No supposedly pretext of
Jewish religious law will serve them when this stupid provocation
sheds innocent blood, through riots of which only the beginning can
be predicted, and whose continuation does not bear imagining....
There are two principal reasons for refraining from ascending the
mount. One is strictly related to Jewish religious law and was
observed for 2,000 years by all Jews whose way of life was governed
by Jewish religious law. Now, these rabbis are suddenly going
through contortions to make Jewish religious law more flexible,
while ignoring the dangers that this entails.... The second
principle in whose name Jews have refrained from praying on the
Temple Mount since 1967 is political wisdom, which dictates extreme
caution at the rim of a volcano. No rabbi is responsible for this
arena; only the government is. Thus religious Zionist rabbis can
try to run riot, but the government has an obligation to restrain
them. The Prime Minister must forbid the rabbis from ascending the
Temple Mount and prevent the political conflict from deteriorating
into a devastating religious one."

II. "Jerusalem and Peace"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (5/15):
"The flap over the expected nonattendance of European and American
diplomats at Monday's official celebration of the 40th anniversary
of Jerusalem's reunification is unfortunate.... At some level, it is
understandable that the international community regards the issue of
Jerusalem as a matter that must ultimately be resolved in
negotiations with the Arab world, and in particular with the
Palestinians. Israel, since agreeing to the Oslo Accords that
define Jerusalem as a final status issue, does not dispute this. It
is one thing, however, to treat a matter as negotiable, and quite
another to lean so heavily against one side in a negotiation. There
is no reason or justice, for example, in the international refusal
to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Every nation has a
right to determine its capital, even if the borders of that capital
are destined to be the topic of negotiations.... Extreme measures
taken not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of
Jerusalem are only matched by the blatant bias toward recognizing
Palestinian claims to disputed areas. Such extremes include a
practice by the State Department of refusing to mark the passports
and birth certificates of American citizens born in Jerusalem with
'Jerusalem, Israel' as their birthplace. This practice continues
despite the passage of a law in 2002 mandating its cessation.... It
should be no surprise if many in the Arab world see success in
denying Israel recognition in any part of Jerusalem as representing
success in the campaign to deny Israel's right to exist. The
opposite policy -- that of recognizing that Jerusalem, even if its
borders are disputed, is Israel's capital -- would have a
proportionately positive effect on the prospects for peace: it would
be taken in the Muslim world as further international rejection of
the goal of destroying Israel. It is this goal that is the only
real obstacle to peace; anything that contributes to its abandonment
is an important step toward ending the Arab-Israeli conflict."


III. "They Were Given a State"

Palestinian affairs researcher Moshe Elad, a former senior IDF
official in the West Bank and former head of Israel-PA coordination,
wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (5/15): "In
July 2004, close to its 228th Independence Day, the United States
established the 'Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and
Stabilization' of failed states. The person in charge of the
'reconstruction' of states, Carlos Pascual, explained at the time
that failed states represented a strategic threat to the Western
world, in particular to the US, and that, more than the US is
interested in their stabilization, it is looking for its benefit in
reconstructing them -- what was said was 'its benefit,' not that of
the failing states, and certainly not that of their neighbors.
Condoleezza Rice's latest 'benchmark plan,' as well as the Roadmap's
updated versions, represent symptoms not of solving problems of
"failed states" but of creating such states. Proclaiming the
lifting of roadblocks and the opening of crossings in a way that is
totally detached from the security reality currently in place in the
territories is a classical expression of the 'lame duck' policy of
US administrations in their waning days. Such declarations will
cause Palestine to join the long list in the hands of the US
administrations, which shows that from 1955 to 2000 there have been
144 failed states that threatened world peace."

JONES

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